Below par Town sunk by late winner
Brightlingsea Regent 2 Enfield Town 1
The first of three consecutive away games for Town kicked off in warm sunshine against a Brightlingsea outfit still smarting from their FA Cup exit at Hanwell the previous Saturday.
Minus wide men Steve Wales (ankle injury) and Aaron Greene (an unused sub for Chelmsford City v Weston-Super-Mare), the visitors took a long while to get going, and were second best for the majority of the opening 45 minutes. Striker Ben Ward-Cochrane came off the bench for Drew Roberts with twenty minutes to go, having returned to the club following time at Loughborough University.
Regent began with intent, an early long throw being headed clear by Simon Thomas, while, at the opposite end, Mario Noto and Drew Roberts both had efforts blocked. A set piece proved to be Town’s initial undoing in the 12th minute when home centre back Josh Gould’s header from a corner on the Regent left was deflected past Joe Wright for the opening goal of the game.
Regent attempted to turn the screw, and Aaron Condon’s shot was blocked by Rob Bartley. Sam Youngs, Town’s man of the match, set up an attack with a good run which ended with Ryan Blake being crowded out by Josh Gould. Thomas then set up Blake, but the former Chesham man lost control at a vital moment. Blake then delivered a cross from the right for Thomas, who was thwarted by keeper Sam Cowler.
In truth, Town were creating little and looked susceptible to the hosts’ pacey counter attacks, particularly down their left hand side. There was a let-off on the twenty minute mark when Phil Kelly shot wide with the goal at his mercy. Then, five minutes later, James Love was well off target from distance. Freddie Gard just failed to get his head to a cross from Condon, while Bartley charged down another shot from Gard.
Half-time: Brightlingsea Regent 1 Enfield Town 0
Town improved significantly after the break and set about salvaging something from the match. Cowler punched clear a long throw from Bartley and, soon afterwards, Dan Rumens headed against the outside of a post.
The energetic Blake then looked to have equalised with a low shot but somehow Matt Cripps got back to clear just as the ball was about to cross the line. Building up some momentum at this point, as the heavens opened with a downpour, Youngs then delivered a ball into the danger area and Simon Thomas rose to head home for his fifth goal of the season just over ten minutes into the half.
Blake then tested Cowler from distance, but his shot lack power and then he was subsequently wide of the mark from another Youngs cross. Town were looking relatively comfortable at this point but seemed to have gone off the boil a little in their search for a winner.
The killer blow was applied seven minutes from time when a deep cross from the right saw two unmarked Regent attackers at the far post, and the first of these, Connor Hogan, nodded the ball back for Billy Hunt to rifle in off the crossbar to effectively seal the points for the home side.
With very little recovery time remaining, Cowler got down low to smother another low Blake effort and soon afterwards Town were indebted to Wright for making a vital double save after he had been left exposed. The final action of the match saw Youngs create space for himself before unleashing a superb shot on the turn which was acrobatically turned over by Cowler.
Perhaps a point might have been banked on another day, but Town could have few complaints overall and now have a tough test at Wingate & Finchley on Tuesday (12th September, 7.45pm).
Brightlingsea Regent: Sam Cowler, Ricky Griggs, Jake Gould, Connor Witherspoon, Josh Gould, Matt Cripps, Robbie Rees, James Love, Phil Kelly (Connor Hogan 77), Freddie Gard (Jake Clowsley 90), Aaron Condon (Billy Hunt 71). Unused subs: Robert Harvey, Tom Richardson.
Enfield Town: Joe Wright, Mickey Parcell, Danny Rumens, Taylor McKenzie (John Kyriacou 55), Rob Bartley, Mario Noto, Ryan Blackman, Sam Youngs, Ryan Blake, Simon Thomas, Drew Roberts (Ben Ward-Cochrane 71). Unused subs: Darren Purse, Jack Higgs, George Beattie. Booked: McKenzie.